Anti-government protesters in Zimbabwe continued their defiance campaign, but they took it to a cricket game on Saturday in the city of Bulawayo. They stood and sang the national anthem during the game as a sign of protest.
The initiative to use the game as a means of protest was by Pastor Evan Mawarire who called on Zimbabweans through a video on social media to stand up and sing the national anthem during the 36th over of Saturdays’ game between Zimbabwe and the New Zealand.
Pastor Mawarire, leader of the protest movement against the government, was recently freed by a Harare court following a charge of subversion that was brought against him for instigating a shutdown in the country.
When the 36th over starts; you and I are going to stand up as a sign of saying for 36 years we have been quiet but now we are standing up.
‘‘We want them (government) to listen, and these people don’t listen. So we have to find creative ways of protesting and making sure that they hear our voice,’‘ he said.
“Go to the cricket game on Saturday, take your flag with you, this flag (the Zimbabwean flag) in the 36th over, when the 36th over starts; you and I are going to stand up as a sign of saying for 36 years we have been quiet but now we are standing up,’‘ he added.
Mawarire’s proposal was carried out during the game as nationals stood up and sung the anthem after the 36th over, fists in the air, waving the national flag. They chanted “Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe” after the anthem.
Earlier reports indicated that a heavy police presence was deployed to the grounds of the game. Protesters wearing academic gowns were arrested by police during the game and sent to the police station.
Even though Jennifer Williams of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) was arrested, social media activists hailed the organization and execution of the protest on Twitter as ‘highly successful.’‘
On the game, New Zealand took control of the second test hitting 206-1 on day one. They lead the two-match series 1-0 after winning the first test at the same venue.